Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This Donkey is Much Surprise!

Give me more Friday's!
Well, it's not exactly TGI Friday's, but thanks anyway, Japan, for Bikkuri Donkey ("Surprise Donkey") and it's mystery "hamburger steaks". At least the menus look somewhat familiar.


Why, I'll go for the mystery meat patty with a partially-cooked egg on top, naturally!

Mmm, yours comes with sauce and three french fries. Bon appetit! I mean, itadakimasu!
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Here are some of my favorites from an Ikebana exhibition in Hachinohe. Ikebana is about balance, emotion, and the specific choice and use of materials in juxtaposition with negative space. Ikebana is a serious art form in Japan.

Hiking through Oirase Gorge; Emerging at Towada Lake

The Oirase Gorge is located only a short drive from Hachinohe and is a breathtaking piece of nature. Hiking along the gorge is a popular activity for locals, and some just choose to drive alongside the scenery on the road that runs next to the stream - this road was an unpleasant distraction from the natural beauty, and the smell of automobile exhaust wasn't desirable either.
Andy spots a waterfall!
The Nihon-jin were either decked out in the latest in hiking fashion and technology, or in high heels and mini skirts for the muddy hike.

After a good two hours, we emerged from the mouth of the gorge to see the spectacular Towada Lake.

Vending Machine Coffee, starring:

BLACK "The Hard"
CAFÉ AU LAIT "The Creamy"
BLEND "The Quality"
CAPPUCCINO "The Italian"

Epic Blog Fail

Well, I have most definitely failed at being a blogger. It's been months since I've posted anything, and I think that's probably a blogging cardinal sin. But instead of being tempted to just give up altogether, which would be the easy route, I am resolved to push forward and attempt to redeem myself.

Since I last posted, a lot has happened, naturally. So where to begin? Is is sad that I have to look through my iPhoto to remember what I did in last couple of months of my life?

I'm going to do a summary version of events here, so bear with me....

Some time in October we hit the road (as passengers) to a nearby town called Takko Town for the Beef & Garlic Festival - how could we pass this one up? Although we got lost a couple of times along the way, we eventually spotted a trail of red signs, like the one at left, pointing us to the good eats (notice the garlic clove-shaped street lamp).

Garlic abounded everywhere, as you can see. With our ticket we got a bag that included a couple cloves of garlic, some thinly sliced local raw beef and chopped veggies, all of which we threw on a make-shift outdoor grill. It was probably the most delicious beef I have ever tasted! Paired with the line dancing, taiko drumming, and a supposed public spit roasting of a whole cow (we arrived too late to witness it).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

hako hako Hakodate!

Okay, I took way too long to post these pictures...., but here are some of our photographic memories from our four-day jaunt up to Hakodate - "the San Francisco of Japan".

We took a 2 hour train to Aomori City on the Northern coast of Honshu, then boarded a 4 hour ferry across the water to Hakodate. The ferry literally looked like it was opening its jaws and swallowing the boarding vehicles. We too had to enter through the mouth of this great beast.

In the belly of the beast....

Here we are on board!

We parked it on the upper deck with a couple of Sapporo tall-boys we'd brought aboard and had a nice view for most of the voyage.

Andy took a time out to be present.

Hakodate is on the Southern tip of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island. This seaside town was one of the first Japanese ports opened to foreign trade, and there is a sprinkling of unexpected architecture brought in by Russian and European missionaries in the 19th century.

Here's one of the beautiful churches (this one happened to be Roman Catholic) nestled into the hillside that over looks the port. You can see one of the town's quaint cobblestone streets in the foreground.

Wandering up the hill we stumbled upon this adorable coffee shop/book store/pension where we sipped on Ceylon tea and admired the nighttime view below us.

Back at our little hotel, Kokian.

Hakodate is very proud of its local squid. We made a visit to the Morning Market to see and taste some for ourselves...

Nom nom nom...donburi!

Look at the size of these crabs!

On the way back to our hotel, we were surprised to stumble upon a big gathering and display of vintage Volkswagons, compliments of the Hakodate VW Owner's Club.

Popped into this little cafe next door to our hotel. The decor was Scandinavian modern, very unexpected. We drank coffee and browsed interior design magazines.

There's that San Francisco view we were looking for...

Oh, and look, there's a cable car!

This might be a contender for our Christmas card

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Random Happenings

Today I was in a Japanese home-ec class. There were twenty five 15 year old girls holding cucumbers in one hand and giant kitchen knives in the other.